Argo Vals is an Estonian multi-instrumentalist and composer. His career can be traced back to 2006, when DIY tracks morphed slowly into several Baltic ensembles. Simultaneously, Vals has written music for numerous television shows, feature films, and dance productions. His debut LP, "Tsihcier," was published in December 2012. It was nominated in the Alternative/Indie category for Album of Year at Estonia's Music Awards, 2013.
In a recent interview with Estonia's "Guitar" magazine, Vals explained that he first picked up a guitar at the very young age of eleven. Because that same instrument was a Christmas gift, it was both anticipated and then used with much gratitude. In subsequent years, as an early enthusiasm became classical lessons in Tartu, the quality of his tools would improve - only to be followed by an electric equivalent.
Oddly enough, Vals was able to find plenty of "grunge and alt-rock bands" on the quiet streets of his hometown, and so individual passions were quickly channeled into group activity. Not everybody, however, was born with the same work ethic, and even today Vals feels that he shoulders (too) much of the organizational responsibility for a plethora of side-projects, live shows, and studio sessions. Because of that busy schedule, he uses the briefest of free moments to write new material. "I always keep an mp3 player handy - for the most random of sketches. Riding on a train, say, I'm able to save some of my fledgling ideas."
The spirit of Steve Reich appears, in that Vals (a long-term fan) uses looping software to construct linear narratives from these miniature "sketches." Motifs grow into stories, step by (repeated) step.
As Reich himself once admitted: "I discovered that the most interesting music of all was made by simply lining [up] the loops in unison, and letting them slowly shift out of phase with one another." That famous statement seems relatively close to Vals' own desire to design "ensemble creations - built with the great appreciation I have for minimalism."
In deliberate avoidance of any "ill-considered, unnecessary sounds," our Estonian musician finds that "Robert Fripp and Steve Reich are the composers who really make my eyes light up." These new recordings offer some additional proof.
released April 21, 2014
The Argo Vals Band consists of: Argo Vals, Jaan Jaago (guitar), Indrek Mällo (bass), Kaarel Kuusk (keys), Hans Kurvits (drums).
"24" and "Oxymoron" were first published by the Estonian label Eesti Pops (Feb., 2014). The studio sessions involved:
Argo Vals (guitar, bass, metallophone, glockenspiel, keys, effects, and programming)
Hans Kurvits (drums)
Indrek Mällo (bass)
Kaarel Kuusk (keyboards, "Oxymoron")
Jakob Juhkam (keyboards, "Oxymoron")
Recording: Argo Vals, Jakob Juhkam, Martin Kikas, Kaarel Kuusk
Editing: Argo Vals
Mixing: Jakob Juhkam, Argo Vals
Mastering: Lauri Liivak
"Letters" was recorded for Klassikaraadio's "Areaal live" in April 2013 and published in November 2013. www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkhJ5J50WO4
Recording: Kaspar Karner
Mixing: Martin Kikas, Argo Vals
Argo Vals (synthesizer), Jaan Jaago (acoustic guitar)
Kaarel Kuusk (keys)
Tanel Kadalipp (double bass)
Hans Kurvits (drums)
The original of "Imer" was composed by Galaktlan (Est.) and appeared on his "Remixed Memory" LP. A subsequent compilation of remixes of was entitled "Second Memory." The AV version involved an electric guitar, Casio synthesizer, drum sampler, metallophone. It was mixed by Argo Vals and Martin Kikas.